logo

A man lies and dreams of green fields and rivers

- Pink Floyd


image

Athletes

May 07, 2018

Black Diamond Drops Joe Kinder

UPDATE: Joe Kinder, a professional climber, has been removed from the Black Diamond team for violating their zero tolerance policy towards bullying.

WRITTEN BY

Himraj Soin

[button color=”” size=”” type=”square_outlined” target=”” link=””]UPDATE:

Since this article was first published, The Outdoor Journal has been in contact with the relevant parties. This is a developing story, and as such, the article was updated at 05:45 UTC on 16th May 2017.

After reflecting, Joe Kinder has just issued another apology on his Instagram.

After this story was published, La Sportiva also ended its relationship with Joe Kinder, removing him from their team of ambassadors. 

Joe Kinder told The Outdoor Journal that the meme in question did not explicitly state Sasha or Edu’s name in the caption. Our original coverage stated that “he body shamed her by making a crass joke and included Sasha and her climbing partner Edu in the caption”.

Sasha’s manager told The Outdoor Journal that she spoke directly with the athlete managers at Black Diamond and asked for Joe to not be dropped from the team—however, this was their choice and several factors went into this decision.

A full statement from Sasha can be found at the bottom of the article.

 

[/button]

Sasha DiGiulian, a professional climber and writer, called out fellow climber Joe Kinder on his social media bullying, mostly targeted towards her. This had been ongoing for several years and previously, Sasha had tried to address the issue offline, but Joe did not respond. Joe had a private meme account on IG, where he would post inside jokes making fun of friends. In one post, he posted an image of Sarah Sapora—a well-known public figure who focuses on wellness and self-love. Her main goal is “to show other women that they are visible, valuable, and have the ability to be the ‘hero’ in their own lives”. The now deleted meme was made at her expense. Sasha has been very vocal about body image issues and eating disorders, speaking from personal experiences she has had to overcome. This has sparked a debate on the effects of cyberbullying, eating disorders, gender inequality, and the role and responsibility of professional and influential athletes. Joe has issued an apology that has been accepted by Sasha.

On May 3, Sasha called attention to this issue on her Instagram:

As a community we need to uphold ourselves to higher standards than permitting defamatory, assaulting behavior. I use my social media platforms to share a window into my life- both professionally and personally, yet I also believe that this channel is a platform to have a voice and stand for what I believe in. This includes spreading more love and taking a stance against bullying. I am hurt and broken hearted to say that I am a victim of a bully and it has crossed the line. I write from the hospital, where I sit praying for the health of my family. I have received many messages about the ridicule that someone has made about me and my career. I have tried reaching out maturely, with no response. I find it incredibly sad that he has chosen this road. Perhaps because I am an independent female who has made a career out of my chosen path that irritates him? The second photo in this slide is one example of a reference he has made to me and Edu going to the Verdon, which I had to cancel due to my Grandma’s health. At the root of a lot of evil is insecurity. There is a line at which enough is enough, and I do not find it okay that a man can act like such a child, nor target women in such a vulgar way as he has done. I have chosen to write about this because while joking banter can be light and entertaining, this is not “light” content. This is malicious and ongoing. Behavior like this has dire consequences on the victim, including eating disorders, the perpetuation of gender inequality, and a misrepresentation of the pillars that I am proud that our community stands for. – Update I’ve been in touch with Joe and he’s taking steps to fix his problems. He deleted the meme account and has apologized in both my and his social accounts. Personally I’m accepting his apology and would encourage all of you to do the same. This includes his sponsors who I know are aware of the situation and I’m sure he’s feeling the heat from that angle. Ultimately I want our community to be better, to respect people of all strengths, shapes and sizes for who they are. As athletes, lets use our platforms for good and work hard to push the limits of what us humans are capable of.

A post shared by S A S H A • D I G I U L I A N (@sashadigiulian) on

To this post, Black Diamond responded: @sashadigiulian and the greater climbing tribe, thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. At BD, we have and always will support ALL women in the climbing community. From our amazing female athletes, to the women’s specific gear we design, our stance has and will always be to support and value women.

Pro climber and The North Face athlete Emily Harrington responded: This is a really valuable conversation to have right now. And respect to you sasha for having the courage to bring it up under some pretty personal and hurtful circumstances. Not many of us would have the courage or know where to begin. Respect. I’m sorry it came to such a painful place though and I sincerely hope good can come from this. That everyone can be better and kinder humans as a result. Big love to you and especially to your fam right now .

Mountaineer and TNF athlete Conrad Anker responded: It takes strength to speak out. Thanks Sasha for being a beacon of positivity. May our community learn and make steps towards integrity, compassion, empathy, forgiveness and humility. Be good, be kind, be happy.

On May 4, Black Diamond Equipment dropped Joe Kinder from their team:

On May 3, Joe posted an apology:

Social media has been an awesome way for most of us to reach one another on so many levels. My career has changed immensely with the ease of sharing stories to motivate or inform audience. It can be used in great ways or harmful. I’ve always had a bit of a harsh sense of humor as I grew up a skater-kid punk. I’d rile my friends with pranks or nicknames, as it was done out of love. Fast forward to my adult years and I still enjoy joking and never taking ourselves too seriously but there’s a point when it’s too much. Bullying or harmful content is nothing I’d like to be connected to and I’m not proud to have offended people. For a few months I had a private account that would include a small group of people on inside jokes and memes poking fun at people. (It’s deleted now so no need to search it out.) I went overboard and would like to publicly apologize, Sasha, I’m sorry. I respect women and support our current era for our women as we’re in a historical moment of time. It was not pro, kind, human, or yielding of anything positive. Social media is great and I want to share content to inspire and not cause harm. The brands I work with support women on a major level and I’m dang proud to affiliate with that. My actions are by me and I own it. I apologize to anyone that was hurt by my tasteless acts, I’m learning from this. -joe (Above are photos of people I respect and who teach me to be a better person)

A post shared by Joe Kinder (@joekinder) on

To this, Emily Harrington responded: I’ve known you since I was 14 dude. You’re like an older brother to me and I know your heart is big and in the right place. Insensitive jokes, hurtful actions, and mistakes happen, sometimes in public and sometimes not. We’ve all been on both sides of it. Sasha’s decision to call you out was her way of calling attention to an important issue and dealing with the pain it caused her. Respect for that. And yea it sucks that it had to come to this but it did and here we are. Your response was well thought out and I know it was genuine (because I know you). Good conversations should and will come of this. Let’s all be kinder, better, and give a little more love now.

Sasha responded: I really appreciate your apology Joe. My intention was not to publicly denounce you for an image; it was the pattern Our behavior towards others has consequences on our self-esteem and relationship with ourselves and the community. Now we are communicating publicly and privately and I Wish before we could have been speaking privately too; I did reach out. This can all be flipped around in a positive light as I see working together on a societal issue and deconstructing the negative is the way forward.

Sasha’s last update came from her manager, Luke Tipple:

Good morning everyone, Sasha is with family in the hospital right now saying goodbye to her Grandmother. She’ll be back on social media in the next couple of days but in the meantime she’s asked me as her manager to issue a statement on her behalf. First of all she wants to thank everyone for their support of her decision to speak out about bullying. The situation is unfortunate and it’s important that you all understand that it wasn’t just one post or one snarky meme, this was an ongoing problem over several years that affected Sasha as well as several other female athletes. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to settle this privately but the attacks kept coming. Sasha made a difficult and brave decision to speak out publicly knowing full well that she’d be subject to backlash and victim shaming. This brought accountability and voice to an issue that was not otherwise stopping. Sasha is in touch with Joe and has accepted his apology. She also spoke to Black Diamond and encouraged them not to drop Joe as an athlete. Their decision to do so was not desired, but is in line with the ethics and morality clauses in all professional athlete contracts so their actions have to be respected. On a personal level guys, this world is changing for the better thanks to people like Sasha who are brave enough to take a stand against bullying. It sucks that it’s resulted in a respected athlete learning some hard lessons, but hopefully this is something the entire community can benefit from eventually. We’re in touch with Joe and will assist where possible to mitigate further damage. On a final but equally important note, Sasha has been in touch with the woman that was used to poke fun of. Her name is Sarah and you can go to her Instagram at Her and Sasha agree that body shaming is not okay and we all need to accept who we are and to speak up for ourselves and others. @sarahsapora

A post shared by S A S H A • D I G I U L I A N (@sashadigiulian) on


Her manager, Luke Tipple, sent The Outdoor Journal a statement from Sasha:

I agree that social media should not be the standard by which we solve our problems. And here, yes, after attempting private reconciliation, I stood up for myself on my platform. I respect that each person will have an opinion and vocalize it; I hope that you can respect that I have an opinion of my own as well; that is to be held accountable to your actions and to recognize the privilege that we have as professional athletes.
We have an opportunity to hold ourselves to a higher standard. And I am sorry that this comes with such repercussions.

As representatives of our community, we should not spend our extra time being adults that pick fun of other people for no reason but to laugh at them without them knowing.
I don’t stand for just passing my time climbing rock and giving nothing back to society.

And I’m sorry to some that we may forever disagree on these points.

Maybe it could have gone a different way. And it’s important to pull those things into question and think about it. That’s how we grow. That’s how we learn and that’s how we become better in the future. There are always multiple approaches to any one problem. But I chose the one I chose for a good reason. And that is, after attempts to privately reconcile the problem, I shared what was already online. If we refuse to call a bully by their name we continue to allow them the undeserved power they continue to abuse.

My actions were thought out and considered. I asked advice and picked my words carefully. And now what is done is done. This isn’t life ending. We don’t even know that’s it’s career ending. It just forces change and accountability. Joe has a lot of growing up to do; as do we all, and if he had learned these things earlier on than this would have never happened to begin with. His actions are his to own, not mine to excuse.

On May 7, La Sportiva dropped Joe Kinder from their team:

On May 14, Joe Kinder issued another apology.

I made a mistake. A mistake that has cost me my livelihood as a professional climber, and hurt the feelings of someone who I’ve known for more than 10 years. I blame no one but myself and I own my mistake. Climbing has been my family, my home, and my inspiration for more than 25 years. I’m going to do everything I can to earn back the respect and the trust of the tribe. I’ll need some time to work through all of this, but I’ll come through it a better person—because one of the lessons climbing has taught me over the years is to never give up. I have apologized for my mistake and learned a very hard lesson—about myself and about others. I’ve chosen not to respond to the mistruths or rebut the misrepresentations about my mistake that have been broadcast as fact, chosen not to share my version of what happened, because in the end there is no excuse, no defensible explanation for my mistake. There will always be a place in this world for humor, but not for humor that causes hurt. Hopefully we can all grow from this, can all learn to be better to each other, can all be more understanding. I know I will. To those of you that I hurt or disappointed, I am truly sorry. To those of you that have expressed compassion and understanding, thank you for the support. And now? Now, I’m moving forward, starting a new chapter in my life, humbled but not defeated.

A post shared by Joe Kinder (@joekinder) on

Continue Reading

image

Focus

Oct 01, 2018

The Forbidden Zone: Mongols, to Your Horses

The rolling green hills, rocky passes, flower-laden meadows and clear streams of Gorkhi Terelj National Park in northern Mongolia is the birthplace of the Mongols. The Outdoor Journal spent a week on horseback with Stone Horse Expeditions in the heart of this country’s vast wilderness.

image

WRITTEN BY

Apoorva Prasad

Tdrihe Khan Khentii mountains stretched before us, from one end of the azure sky to the other. Tegri, the Great Sky God, watched us with his infinite panorama. From here, I could see miles and miles into the distance. This was the “Forbidden Zone”, that unknown wilderness where Genghis Khan was born. As a child and then again much later on, he hunted here, his true home, on a horse, sheltered in a ger or under the blue sky. When he was a boy, exiled with his family into the cold and harsh wilderness of the northern Mongolian hills, his only friends were what these lands contained. After he built an empire and died, it became a sacred and taboo zone, left to the deer and wolves. For decades the area had been closed off. The Soviets enforced it as a Highly Restricted Area to allow them to do what they wished with it – from logging and military exercises, to also countering any potential rise of Mongolian nationalism around the great Khan. Despite those years, the Area remained wild.

No wonder the Mongols worshipped it.

A day before, we had crossed fresh bear tracks. There were no signs of human presence apart from our train of horses and riders. And now, this vista lay in front of us, green and yellow grassy hills, long valleys, meadows of flowers stretching to higher mountains all the way to Siberia, some still snow-dusted despite the summer sun. Burkhan Khaldun stood further behind higher peaks. And that incredible sky. No wonder the Mongols worshipped it. We all lived once under this blue infinity. As we’d ridden northwards away from Ulan Bator, the city’s pollution had faded away long ago, the gray curse had lifted and my eyes had once again accustomed themselves to what they had evolved to do – see long distances, look for hares, deer, bears, navigate passes and ford streams, climb rocks, and watch falcons circle on thermals above. And over the last few days, we had done all these things.

_mg_6537
The weary horseriders arrive in the ger to refresh themselves.

We had left our last camp around mid-morning, some hours ago. One half of the party broke away to ride into another valley out west, while Keith and I wanted to ride up and to the pass in the range of hills that separated the Gorkhi Terelj from the Khan Khentii. We skirted the granite mounds which punctuated the ends of this valley, forded a marshy grassland below the campsite, fought off the bloodsucking horseflies that made our horses’ lives miserable for a little while, eventually entering a tall forest of larch and birch. The ground began to rise as we entered a narrow rocky trail that started to wind uphill. Jerry, my sturdy, stubborn little Mongolian horse plodded on. This easy gait was infinitely more comfortable than the long trots of our previous days in the saddle. Keith Swenson, a taciturn, the 64 year-old owner of Stone Horse Expeditions along with his wife Sabine Schmidt, showed none of the wear I felt – my skin of my thighs were quite literally raw after 50 kilometers of riding and trotting in the wilderness. After a few days Keith opened up with wisecracks. “People ask what do you do, and I say I’m a rider”, says Keith, punning on his American accent. “They think I mean ‘writer’, “and they ask, what have you written?” “So I say, Blackie, Brownie, Ol Dirty Face…”, naming his horses.

These lands, however remote, are important.

Halfway up the trail was a shaman’s totem, poles placed on the ground to make a conical structure, wrapped with bits of fabric and ribbons. But at the base, and near a tree, we also found broken shards of glass, vodka bottles drunk and thrown by unknown travelers who no longer respected their old ways. We’d been riding for an hour or so and we stopped for a short break in the little opening in the forest. It was quite warm in the strong sun, perhaps 30C like every day of the summer, but cold at nights, often dipping below freezing.

_mg_7103
These Mongolian horses play a huge role in making a trip across the steppe easy and fun for riders. Each horse has a unique personality. Big Dirty Face pictured here loves coffee and will drink it straight from your cup if you let him.

The Mongols invented the modern world*

The old ways are important. These lands, however remote, are important. The Mongols invented the modern world*. When, at the age of 55, Genghis Khan rode out into Asia and Europe, he created the largest empire known to humanity, as well as its first international postal system, and the largest free-flowing network of ideas, trade and culture. But today, Mongolia feels relatively isolated and far away, landlocked in the Eurasian continent. And getting there turned out to be a greater adventure than we’d expected. Instead of flying, we took the famous Trans-Mongolian from Beijing to Ulan Bator. At 11pm, the train pulled into the last station on the China-Mongolia border to change the undercarriage (the railway gauge is different in Mongolia). Three hours later we got back on the train and waited patiently for the Chinese guards to hand us all our passports back. Our intern’s passport was returned ripped from its cover. Before anyone could make a move, the train entered Mongolia… where the Mongolian border guard insisted that the 18-year old girl get off the train because she wasn’t allowed to enter on an invalid passport. Twenty minutes of arguing later, at nearly three am, we got off and watched the train leave without us.

_mg_6297
Mongolian cuisine is typically meat and dairy products. Vegans beware.

Fifteen hours later, after many phone calls and emails to various embassies and important officials, she was finally allowed to enter the country. The Trans-Mongolian having long gone, we finagled an eight-hour taxi ride across the great steppes (on a second-hand car coming off a goods train) for $45. Welcome to Mongolia.

REAL MEN TROT

I did not have much riding experience, but I usually don’t let a little thing like that deter me from a trip. Keith, once also a climber, agreed that anyone up for adventure would be perfectly fine on a Mongolian horse. They were sturdy and forgiving. We all gathered at their staging camp an hour’s drive from Ulan Bator – a Singaporean couple on their second trip with Stone Horse, their friend from Hong Kong, a French diplomat from Swaziland, our team of three, Keith, Sabine and their crew – Nyamaa, Buyana and Jackson, the American intern. Soon, our team of 16 horses and Stinky the Mongolian Dog, a most genuine companion if there ever was one, were off towards the north. Day one went reasonably well, with a short four hour ride to our first campsite inside the Gorkhi Terelj National Park. The other experienced riders asked me various questions about how I felt and whether my horse had cantered or galloped, and I said I didn’t know, but the horse seemed to know what it was doing. Apparently, they have many gaits.

img_1668
Nomads Yadmaa and Tavaasurn inside their summer ger, just outside Gorkhi Terelj.

I learned what that meant the next day.

The morning begins easily and we move along a gentle valley. At a stream, the horses bend to drink. They’re herd animals, comfortable only in their own numbers. Suddenly, there’s a commotion as one of the pack horses spooks and bolts. We’re unprepared, and good old Jerry decides to follow the bolting horse too, suddenly turning 180 degrees and galloping wildly. I have to pull firmly on the reins to stop him, while the teamsters have to get the other fella back. He’s bucking around wildly, his unshod feet stamping, his grass-eating brain telling him that that bee sting he felt on his hind was a wolf’s nip. Stinky ignores the commotion, running ahead happily back in his favorite hunting grounds, chasing ground squirrels to their holes. We continue, entering a forest and then riding uphill to a pass. On the other side, a wide open valley, and our first real gallop. Now I feel the sensation, riding with the animal as one, gently cycling my feet in the stirrups and gripping with my knees, all of it coming naturally to me and I urge Jerry on, on, on. Chhoo, Jerry, Chhoo! We stop at a babbling brook in the valley below where we wash our faces. Are we in paradise?

And then the long trot begins. For a horse, it’s the most comfortable way to move. But it’s bouncy. I try to “post” like all the real riders. Watching me grimace in agony, Keith smiled and said, “real men trot,” as he rode along comfortably with that rolling ankle movement to compensate for the horse’s bumpy ride. “Trotting is how the Mongols moved such vast distances. If you make him gallop, you won’t get very far, you’ll kill the horse”.

a melting pot of humanity and ethnicities

But Mongolia changed the course of human history since long before the great Khan and his riders, the ultimate, self-sufficient soldiers. Apart from the Mongols, it is also the original homeland of the Huns and the Turks. It is a melting pot of humanity and ethnicities, where thousands of years ago two language families met and separated – the Indo-Europeans and the Altaics – and possibly where the wild horse was first tamed, thereby changing the course of history. When men on horses first raced out of Central Asia, first ancient Mesopotamia, then Egypt fell. Europe’s original ‘mother culture’ and India’s Harappan civilization disappeared. Humans, moving incredible distances on horses, spread across Asia, from the western end of Europe to Korea, all the way down to Arabia and India, creating nearly all the cultures we know today. Some of the languages they spoke evolved today into English, and others evolved into Japanese, but some of their words have become so intermingled that it’s hard to distinguish which came from which. Hindi is an Indo-European language, but today the common Hindi word for “home” is “ghar” (from the Sanskrit “grhá”) which is nearly identical to the Altaic Mongolian’s word for home, ger.

When the Hunnu (“Huns”) fought the Chinese Hans, the clans that lost fled towards Europe, creating Hungary, as well as leading to the downfall of the Western Roman Empire. Centuries later, the Turkics originally from the Mongolian steppes came hurtling into Constantinople, wiping out the Eastern Roman Empire.

We ride through rocky hills and rock formations, up and down defiles, over passes and across shallow streams, through meadows of flowers and knee-high grass. We ride all day, and every evening set up our traveling camp like the Mongols of old. We sleep in modern-day lightweight tents, under trees or under the stars, breathing cold clear air, drinking from fresh rain-fed streams, eating atop rocks while falcons circle above and the horses graze.

_mg_6562
The Stone Horse team from left to right – Jackson, Keith, Buyana, Nyamaa and Sabine.

The world has continued to change, but horses and men will forever ride together.

One day we stretched out the ride to reach a farther campsite, a Hunnu gravesite. We set up our tents atop 2000-year old graves, low mounds of stones marking the places where men, women, children and horses were laid to rest. “I believe that these people would have loved us to be here, living like they did,” said Keith. When they hear our horses, they’ll feel alive”. The next morning, I pulled my horse off to a side and to a vantage point to shoot the group riding further down the valley. Jerry stomped and neighed angrily as the herd passed him by, but I held him back. When the group disappeared into the distance, I quickly packed my camera gear back into the saddlebags. Then jumping back on, I let the horse fly as he wished, back to his herd. Jerry, the funny but tough little horse, galloped madly a mile north over the gently rising slope. Our hooves rang out in the valley, as two large round mounds, Hun graves, emerged in front on the mountainside. Neither Jerry nor I needed to veer, and we galloped directly over the centre of the mounds, the sound of our hoofbeats gladdening passed Hunnu souls. Their ancestors, our ancestors, had once tamed wild horses, and together changed the world. The world has continued to change, but horses and men will forever ride together.

Images by Madhuri chowdhury.

­­­­­

loadContinue readingLess Reading

Recent Articles



Outdoor Moms: Hilaree Nelson – Mother of Two, Mountaineering Hero to All

2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, ski descent of the Lhotse Couloir, ski descent of Papsura, first woman to summit two 8,000m peaks in 24 hours… mother of two.

European Outdoor Film Tour: Side-Splitting Hilarity

The 18th annual European Film Tour hits its stride, inspiring and cracking up thousands in 300 venues across 15 countries.

Sworn Wildlife Protector Murders a Family of Baboons: The Full Story

Trophy hunting Idaho Game Commissioner, Blake Fischer, loses his job over unsportsmanlike kills.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Advertising

Analytics

Other